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We might look young, but actually we’re fifty years old! Lots of things about our society have changed in that period, and we’ve obviously had to move with the times – but our basic mission hasn’t changed. We’re as focussed on young people’s mental health and wellbeing today as we were when we first opened our doors in 1965.

Aims

— To support young people to empower and intellectually defend themselves through the provision of mental health services and development work.

— To promote positive mental health and the resilience of all young people.

— To challenge the wider social and structural inequalities that lead to poorer mental health and life chances.

Values

— We believe all young people, irrespective of their social, economic and/or cultural background, have the right to accessible, free, meaningful, therapeutic support.

— We believe in the value of this support socially and politically and for the need to advocate for its provision and for the mental health and well-being of children and young people more generally.

— We believe young people are best placed to articulate their wants and needs from our services and that they should participate in all areas of our work.

— We believe young people have a right to be heard in wider society and that much of what they experience emotionally and psychologically as individuals, they have a shared political interest in challenging collectively.

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OTR's Long and Winding History

OTR opened its doors in 1965 and can justifiably claim to be one of the oldest established young people's counselling services in the country.

The Year was 1965

OTR began life a combined initiative between the Bristol Association of Youth Clubs and Bristol Marriage and Family Guidance Council.

In the course of their work in youth clubs and schools, both organisations were aware of the considerable numbers of young people for whom counselling would be appropriate. In the absence of a service that was free, confidential, and targeted specifically at young people, Off the Record (Bristol) was born.

The Year was 1975

In 1975 we moved away from the Marriage Guidance Council in Clifton, and into dedicated premises on Pipe Lane, opposite Colston Hall.

The Year was 1981

In January 1981 we moved into our current base at the foot of St Michael's Hill, in the Kingsdown area of the city.

The Year was 1996

The service developed and steadily evolved until the Summer of 1996, when despite the best efforts of staff, volunteers and trustees, OTR closed for several months due to a lack of funding. Thanks to the campaigning efforts of a small number of trustees and volunteers, we re-opened six months later.

Today

As we hit fifty, OTR has never been in better shape. Over 2000 young people access us for support each year, and we've a wide range of services and projects delivered from a variety of venues across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Lots of things have changed; the issues young people bring, the funders, the city! Fundamentally though we're still offering local young people the same thing - free, confidential, support for young people aged 11-25 that doesn't rely on an adult referral.

 

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It’s a reality that without cash our work just couldn’t happen. Help us keep the lights on and make a donation! Over 75% of our income goes direct to frontline services so you can be sure you’re making a difference to young people’s lives however much you can afford to give.

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You’ll find details of any current vacancies we have posted below. Whatever opportunity you’re interested in working at OTR is a hugely rewarding experience, and we invest heavily in the progression of all our staff and volunteers.

 

Placements

We offer voluntary opportunities for both qualified and student practitioners! You can expect to play a full part in the OTR experience for young people so you will need to be able to commit to at least five hours per week.

Please note, this is a competitive process and you will at least need to be in the third/final year of a recognised professional qualification. Experience working directly with young people in a related capacity is also an advantage. We provide regular in-house multi-disciplinary group supervision as well as training and expenses.

Here at OTR we really do embrace diversity, so we’re less interested in your theoretical orientation than your ability to build relationships with young people. All our volunteers work within our city centre service, which runs six days a week and offers brief interventions.

We especially welcome applications from Black and Minority Ethnic counsellors/students, and those able to work with children (11-13) as well as young people.

You can apply at any time, just fill out the form below, tell us when you are available to volunteer (tick all the boxes that apply) and attach your CV. Before you do that though we recommend you read our Volunteer Terms of Engagement so you know what to expect from your time with us – and what we will expect from you. Once we receive your application we’ll be in touch when vacancies arise that match your availability to arrange an interview with one of the team.

*** Our Thursday team in the city centre are looking for applications from creative practitioners with experience delivering psycho educational groups with a range of people. You will be committed to social justice and equality, and passionate about working with young people.

You will be confident in running small groups, and will be able to lead a range of short courses in mindfulness, psycho education and/or self care.

You will need to be able to commit one day a week (Thursdays) for a minimum of six months. To apply please follow the instructions above put but a note in the contact form you are interested in ‘Thursday group work.’

Volunteer Terms of Engagement






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Our Trustees come from all walks of life and possess a wealth of professional experience across health, education, third sector management, finance and law. We believe strongly that those who use our services should have strong and meaningful representation at Board level, and young people participate in full Board meetings and as representatives of our Young People’s Steering Group.

Biographies

Tony Whitlock (Chair)

Joined OTR as a Trustee and Treasurer in 2003. A qualified accountant, Tony has over 25 years experience in local government and specialises in corporate finance issues. Tony is the Treasurer of a number of other Bristol based charities and has a comprehensive knowledge of public and third sector finance.

Craig Lovatt (Treasurer)

Mhemooda Malek

Mhemooda Malek is an experienced third sector development worker and social policy analyst with a degree in Psychology and MA in Race Relations. A former Assistant Director of Kids Company, Mhemooda brings a wealth of experience in research and child and adolescent mental health. She's previously worked for organisations such as The Care Quality Commission, The Change Institute, The Children's Society, National Children's Bureau, Alcohol Concern, The Afiya Trust and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Peter Hobbs

Peter Hobbs completed his post graduate studies at Bristol University where he qualified as a teacher. He has taught at comprehensive schools in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare and was head of two large sixth form centres. Peter went on to be Senior Children's Officer for Bristol City Council, where his responsibilities included school exclusions, home education, special education needs, and safeguarding. Peter is now retired from paid work.

Dr Rachel Brown

Dr Rachel Brown has been a GP in Bristol for the past twenty years. She practices at Montpelier Health Centre, a partner of OTR and large inner city practice with a young, multi ethnic population. Rachel's professional interests are in women's health and mental health, and it was this (and the needs of her diverse patients) that prompted her to become a trustee of OTR in 2007.

Bob Sommers

Bob Sommers is originally from London and the world of manufacturing, but later became a science teacher and taught in Uganda and Botswana before coming to Bristol and working in schools across the city. Bob was Head of Gordano Comprehensive School in Portishead for 12 years before he retired. These days he is still heavily involved training headteachers, and is a member of the North Somerset Fostering Panel.

Diana Wetz

Diana Wetz is a recently retired Psychotherapist in Bristol's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. She has worked professionally in education, social care, and the voluntary sector for both the NSPCC and Relate. She introduced a model of school counselling in Bristol for the NSPCC which has served as a template for school counselling services nationally. Diana has been a trustee with OTR since 2007.

Tim Manley

Tim Manley was born and raised in Bristol. In 2009 he graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in History, before returning to Bristol to work in litigation for a commercial law firm. Tim has a Masters in Law from Bristol University and is in the early stages of a career as a Barrister. Tim joined us in 2012.

Josie Harrington

Josie Harrington is a mental health nurse and has been working with young people for the past ten years. She specialises in offending behaviour and substance misuse. Her interest in young peoples mental health and complex needs has lead her to being a trustee for OTR. She has been a trustee since 2013.

Company Number: 4150044

Off the Record (Bristol) is a company limited by guarantee.

Charity Number: 1085351
Off the Record (Bristol) is a registered charity.

Registered Address:
Off the Record (Bristol),
2 Horfield Road,
St Michael’s Hill,
Bristol, BS2 8EA.

We are members of:
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
The Telephone Helplines Association (THA)
Youth Access Link Advice UK (FIAC)
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

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